Currently there are an estimated nearly 9,000 reptiles in the world, while the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has assessed all of the world’s described mammals, birds, and amphibians, reptiles have yet to be fully assessed, leaving herpetologists with an unclear picture of how reptiles are faring in the world.
As of this year 1,677 reptiles have been assessed (less than 20 percent of the total number of reptile species known) with 293 added this year. Of those assessed, 28 percent of reptiles are considered threatened with extinction. The percentage is close to that of amphibians, which is 30 percent, who are considered to be undergoing an extinction crisis. Some researchers fear that reptiles are undergoing a similar, but less publicized, crisis.
The La Palma giant lizard (Gallotia auaritae) is one of 293 reptiles added to the IUCN Red List this year; it is Critically Endangered. It was long thought to be extinct, but the lizard was rediscovered last year on the Canary Island of La Palma. Photo by: Tim Laman.
“The world’s reptiles are undoubtedly suffering, but the picture may be much worse than it currently looks,” says Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “We need an assessment of all reptiles to understand the severity of the situation but we don’t have the $2-3 million to carry it out.
As underrepresented as the reptiles are, many other groups—such as invertebrates, freshwater species, marine species, and plants—are less represented. Currently the IUCN has evaluated 2.7 percent of the world’s 1.8 million described species.
Scientists do not know how many species there are in the world: estimates range from a few million to upwards of 20 million.
The reptiles are a taxonomic class that includes lizards, snakes, turtles, and crocodilians.
(09/03/2009) Scientists have stumbled on the Arakan forest turtle for the first time in the wild, according to a report by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). One of the world’s rarest turtles, the Arakan forest turtle was thought to be extinct for 86 years, before being discovered in an Asian food market in 1994. It has never before been observed in the wild by scientists. A team with WCS found five of the Critically Endangered turtles in a wildlife sanctuary in Myanmar (also known as Burma). The rarely-visited sanctuary was originally created to protect Asian elephants.
(08/24/2009) A row has taken off in Indonesia over whether or not to allow gold mining near Komodo National Park, home to the infamous, venomous, and largest of all lizards, the Komodo dragon. Eight mines have currently been proposed, several have already begun exploratory work. Critics of the gold mines contend that the mining threatens the ecology of the park and the Komodo dragon, listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.
(08/18/2009) The wild population of the Critically Endangered Philippine crocodile Crocodylus mindorensis has just received a very welcome boost. Fifty crocodiles have been released into Dicatian Lake, Isabela Province on Luzon Island.